Herp News
Mosques Support Sea Turtle Conservation in Malaysia
This week almost 500 mosques around the Malaysian state of Terengganu will present sermons on turtle conservation, reported the New Strait Times.
Prioritizing amphibian species for captive breeding to save them from extinction
Frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians are disappearing at an alarming rate. Of approximately 6,000 amphibian species in the world, about one third are classified as threatened or endangered. A disease caused by a chytrid fungus has devastated frogs living in mid to high elevation streams worldwide. Amphibians also face habitat destruction as forests and wetlands are developed and polluted by agricultural chemicals. In Panama, highland frog populations west of the Canal have declined at an alarming rate.
Scientists can't explain cause of amphibian extinction crisis
Scientists have yet to conclusively explain the underlying cause of global declines in amphibian populations, according to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research says that two leading theories for the demise of amphibians — both related to the emergence and spread of the deadly chytrid fungus — are not supported by scientific data.
Rare rhino rat snake hatches in London zoo
With its characteristic horn, the endangered rhino rat snake has been bred in a European zoo for the first time.
New gecko species discovered
A previously unknown species of gecko has been discovered in the South Pacific by French scientists, reports the Associated Press.
Two new species of gecko discovered in Australia
Two species of gecko have been discovered in the southern deserts of Western Australia and South Australia, report researchers from the Western Australian Museum.
Yellowstone amphibians in decline due to climate change
Climate change appears to be responsible for a "marked drop" in the population of three of four species of amphibian once common to Yellowstone National Park, report researchers writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
7 new species of frog discovered in Ecuador
Seven previously unknown species of frog discovered over the past two years by Ecuadorian researchers are already under threat from habitat loss, reports a newsletter from the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group.
Deer enhance biodiversity of reptiles and amphibians in forest areas
The presence of deer affects the number of reptiles, amphibians and insects found in forest areas, suggests a new study by researchers at Ohio State University and National Park Service. A higher abundance of deer is associated with greater biodiversity.
Mass amphibian die-offs affect ecosystems
Large-scale die-offs of amphibians due to the outbreak of a killer fungal disease is impacting the forest ecosystem in which they live, reports a new study published in the journal Ecosystems.
Thousands of endangered sea turtles killed as fishing bycatch in Mexico
Thousands of endangered loggerhead sea turtles are being killed as bycatch in the Mexican fishing industry, reports a new study published in the journal Endangered Species Research.
Armageddon for amphibians? Frog-killing disease jumps Panama Canal
Chytridiomycosis — a fungal disease that is wiping out amphibians around the world — has jumped across the Panama Canal, report scientists writing in the journal EcoHealth. The news is a worrying development for Panama's rich biodiversity of amphibians east of the canal.
52% of amphibians, 35% of birds at risk from climate change
52 percent of the amphibians, 35 percent of birds and 71 percent of reef-building coral are "particularly susceptible" to climate change, warns an IUCN report.
Good news for amphibians: three new species and one "extinct" frog discovered
Amphibians have received a lot of bleak news recently. Last week a report from the Zoological Society of London and EDGE stated that 50 percent of Europe’s amphibians will go extinct by 2050 unless more is done for their conservation. Meanwhile a report published in August found that one in three amphibians worldwide are threatened with extinction, while 200 species have already been lost since the 1980s. Therefore the discovery of three new frog species and the rediscovery of one thought to be extinct provide a little respite from such bad tidings.
More than half of Europe's amphibians face extinction by 2050
Researchers with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) said over half of European amphibians face extinction in less than fifty years due to a perfect storm of threats: climate change, habitat loss, and disease. The announcement came at an event titled ‘Amphibians in a climate of change' hosted by Sir. David Attenborough, one of the world's most well-known wildlife enthusiasts due to his long career making nature documentaries.
Unknown but critically endangered iguana species discovered in Fiji
Researchers have discovered a third species of iguana in the Fiji. It is believed to be critically endangered, with a population of a "few hundred".
Thought-to-be-extinct frog rediscovered in Australia
Scientists have rediscovered a thought-to-be-extinct species of frog in a creek in Northern Australia. The find offers hope that some species have survived a fungal epidemic that has devastated the amphibians of Queensland.
Yellow toad births offer hope for extinct-in-the-wild species
The birth of Kihansi spray toadlet at the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo has renewed hopes that the species can someday be successfully reintroduced to its natural habitat in a remote gorge in Tanzania. The Kihansi spray toad is believed to have been driven to extinction by the destruction of its only known habitat — the Kihansi gorge in the Southern Udzungwa Mountains of South Central Tanzania — by a hydroelectric project. Its demise was hastened by the appearance of the deadly chytrid fungus, a pathogen that is taking a heavy toll on amphibians around the world. The last confirmed sighting of the species in the wild was in May 2005.
Photo: commonly-kept gecko was thought to be extinct in the wild
The Crested Gecko is endemic to South Province, New Caledonia in the South Pacific. While the species is widely kept in the pet trade, the species was long believed extinct in the wild until it was rediscovered in 1994. It is now known to have three distinct populations and its conservation status is currently being evaluated by the IUCN. Trade in wild-caught individuals is presently banned.
Komodo dragon conservation efforts prove controversial in Indonesia
Efforts to conserve the world's largest lizard — the Komodo dragon — are proving controversial, and potentially dangerous to villagers, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Developing the world's most sophisticated program for mapping endangered species
It was big news in April when a comprehensive map of Madagascar's rich and unique biodiversity was unveiled. The project managed to map ranges of 2,315 species across an island larger than France. Such detailed mapping could not have happened without the aid of Steve Phillips. A researcher at AT&T, Phillips developed the software that made such detailed and expansive mapping possible.
Scientists discover world's smallest snake species
If one wanted to overcome their fear of snakes, they may want to start with the newly discovered Leptotyphlops carlae. Measuring less than four inches long, even stretched out this new species of threadsnake can't compete with the average pen or pencil.
Photo: World's oldest Fly River Turtle turns 50
Last Saturday "Freddy", a Fly River Turtle, turned 50. He is the oldest known individual of his species.
Discovery of new leatherback migration route may help save species
Scientists have discovered a new migration route for the world's largest turtle, the leatherback. The route takes the 2,000-pound marine turtle from the Playa Grande beaches in Costa Rica to an area deep in the South Pacific.
Madagascar villagers vote to protect sea turtles, see first hatchlings
The first hatching of Green Turtles recorded as a direct result of efforts to protect the species in southwest Madagascar has been witnessed by marine conservationists working for British charity, Blue Ventures conservation.
Volunteering with Leatherback Sea Turtles in Galibi, Suriname
The northern coast of Suriname is one of the best places in the world to view the largest turtle, the marine Leatherback. Watching the turtle rise out of the tides onto the beach gives one the sense of meeting something ancient, rare, and more sea-monster than marine turtle. Yet, if I call it a sea-monster, I do not mean that it is frightening or ugly: far from it. But it is mysterious, terrible, and wondrous.
Chameleon has shortest life span of any four-legged animal
A newly discovered species of chameleon lives a cicada-like existence, spending the bulk of its short year-long life in its egg, report researchers writing in journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Roads are a major killer of amphibians, reveals study
Frogs, toads, and salamanders worldwide are dying from mysterious causes, with possible culprits ranging from habitat loss to fungal diseases. Now, researchers at Purdue University believe they may have identified a significant and surprising contributor to global amphibian declines: traffic. In a recent study, the scientists looked at road kill along several stretches of road in northwestern Indiana and found that 93 percent of the dead animals were amphibians.
Geriatric turtle sex only hope for world's rarest reptile
With only four individuals of the Yangtze giant softshell turtle left on Earth—one in the wild and three in captivity—conservationists have launched a desperate attempt to save the species from extinction.
Marauding kangaroos may drive extinction of earless dragons in Australia
A plague of kangaroos overgrazing sensitive grasslands near Australia's capital city Canberra is jeopardizing habitat critical for the survival of endangered species including the golden sun moth (Synemon plana) and the grassland earless dragon (Tympanocryptis pinguicolla), one of the world's rarest lizards, according to German and Australian. Culling the kangaroos may be the only option for saving some of these grassland species from extinction.
Frog chooses whether to lay eggs on land or in water
Researchers in Panama have discovered a frog that can choose whether it lays its eggs on land or in water. It is the first time such "reproductive flexibility" has been found in a vertebrate.
Invasive Species: Toad-ally out of control
Throughout warm, wet climates around the world lurks a camouflaged combatant seldom known beyond those who experience first hand its awesome destructive powers. It is an ingeniously crafted destroyer equipped with a host of specially developed chemical toxins, a lightening fast attack, and the ability to easily navigate across both water and land. This devious tool is not a creation of human engineering or military research and development but a product of a much more ancient and refined process: evolution. And until human intervention it was neither ecologically harmful nor an invasive pest but a well-integrated part of ecosystems throughout South and Central America. Meet Bufo marinus — the cane toad: exemplary proof of how human short-sightedness and misuse of biological control agents often leads to the catastrophic mismanagement of our natural world in the form of a large, squat, hungry toad.
Photos of newly discovered species in Brazil's Cerrado
An expedition to Brazil's Cerrado has turned up more than a dozen undiscovered species. conservationists say the discoveries add urgency to protecting the grassland habitat which is rapidly being converted for agriculture.
Lungless frog discovered in Borneo
A lungless frog has been discovered on the island of Borneo. Scientists say the species may shed light on the process of evolution in some organisms.
New map sets conservation priorities for Madagascar
Compiling data on thousands of endemic species of ants, butterflies, frogs, geckos, lemurs and plants, an international team of researchers has developed a comprehensive biodiversity map of Madagascar that will help determine determine future reserve placement and conservation planning on the Indian Ocean island and beyond.
No global warming link to dying frogs?
Scientists have fired another salvo in the heated debate over the role of climate change in the global decline of amphibians. Writing in the March 25 issue of PLoS Biology, a team of researchers led by Karen Lips of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale report finding "no evidence to support the hypothesis that climate change has been driving outbreaks of amphibian chytridiomycosis" -- a disease blamed for large-scale die-offs of amphibians. Other researchers have argued that climate shifts are worsening the outbreak of the fungal disease.
How falling a gecko lands on its feet
According to new research the gecko may have the most dynamic tail in the natural world. Two researchers from UC Berkley have discovered that the gecko uses its tail to keep itself from falling off slippery vertical surfaces and when falling to rapidly right itself. So, like a cat, it always lands on four feet.
Rare jewel-colored frog rediscovered in Colombia
A brilliantly-colored frog has been rediscovered 14 years after its last sighting in a remote mountainous region in Colombia.
Half of Madagascar's amphibians may still await discovery
Madagascar is one of the most unique places on Earth for wildlife. When the public thinks of Madagascar's fauna most likely they think of one of the fifty species of lemur. Yet, Madagascar possesses a wealth of endemic wildlife outside of these unique prosimians. For example, to frog-lovers Madagascar is a paradise. The only amphibians living on Madagascar are frogs; the island is devoid of toads, salamanders, or newts. But what it lacks in other amphibians it makes up for in the number and beauty of its frogs. Currently, 240 frogs have been catalogued in Madagascar, 99 percent of which are endemic. Yet, amphibian expert Dr. Franco Andreone believes that, according to recent field studies, this may only be half of the frogs that actually live in Madagascar. Dr. Andreone believes the final tally could reach 500 species!
Deforestation causes snake invasion in the Amazon
An official with Brazil's environmental protection agency Ibama claims that snakes are invading the city of Belem due to deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.
Rare frog breeds in captivity for the first time
A rare species of frog has been found breeding in captivity in New Zealand, reports the Associated Press. The finding offers hope that the species' vulnerability to extinction can be reduced.
A Doomsday Vault for Frogs?
The Amphibian Ark, a doomsday vault for amphibians, will highlight Leap Day, February 29th, to recognize 2008 as the Year of the Frog. The campaign seeks to raise awareness of the global plight of frogs and other amphibians threatened by habitat loss, climate change, pollution and an emergent disease. Joining in the effort is the Wildlife conservation Society?s (WCS) Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium, facilities that house some of the world's most threatened amphibians.
Rainforest logging threatens endangered sea turtles
Logging is having an unexpected impact on endangered sea turtles in Central Africa, reports a new study published in Oryx. Aerial surveys in Gabon reveal that logs lost during transport are clogging beaches, preventing critically endangered leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) from nesting.
Rainforest fragmentation affects reptiles and amphibians
Deforestation of tropical ecosystems is one of the major threats to biological diversity. Anthropogenic activities transform tropical environments into semi-natural landscapes generating a great amount of forest edge that limits with pastures and agricultural lands.
Sea turtle makes record migration - 12,774 miles
Satellite-tagging has revealed that a leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) swam a total distance of 20,558 kilometers (12,774 miles) over 647 days from Jamursba-Medi, Indonesia to the coast of Oregon. The results are published in The State of the World's Sea Turtles magazine, a publication launched by conservation International and the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group.
Madagascar's tortoises at high risk of extinction
Madagascar's rare and unique turtles and tortoises face high risk of extinction in the wild if conservation measures are not rapidly put into place, warned a group of scientists meeting to discuss the fate of Madagascar's most threatened repitles.
The Panamanian golden frog declared extinct by BBC Natural History crew
A national symbol of Panama has been declared extinct by BBC filmmakers. The crew was in Panama to film the unique frog for David Attenborough's most recent series on reptiles and amphibians, entitled Life in Cold Blood. The filmmakers achieved their objective and captured the golden frog on film, including rarely seen behvaior.
Photos: Top 100 most threatened amphibians named
Due to numerous factors--including habitat destruction, pollution, climate change, and chytrid fungus--amphibians are probably the most threatened taxon of species in the world. Dr Jonathan Baillie, head of the EDGE organization which has just established an amphibian program, stated that "tragically, amphibians tend to be the overlooked members of the animal kingdom, even though one in every three amphibian species is currently threatened with extinction, a far higher proportion than that of bird or mammal species." To help save these species on the brink, EDGE, apart of the Zoological Society of London, has compiled a list of the hundred most threatened and evolutionary distinct amphibians.
Scientists discover four species of anole lizards in 24 hours in Panama
In January of 2006 a biological expedition uncovered four anole species in a single day. Dr. Gunther Koehler, a member of the expedition, described the discoveries as "a once in a life time experience; during expeditions before, we had found new species, one at a time--but four species within 24 hours, that was incredible!"
Three salamander species discovered in Costa Rica
Scientists from the Natural History Museum of London have discovered three new species of salamander in south-eastern Costa Rica. This brings the nation's total to forty-three species, meaning that this small tropical nation contains approximately nine percent of the world's salamanders.
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